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The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va., Mike Zitz column [The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va. :: ]
[August 09, 2014]

The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va., Mike Zitz column [The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va. :: ]

(Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 09--PRETTY IRONIC that Timex, the watch-maker still best known for its half-century-old "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking" tag line has come the closest to introducing a true smartwatch.

This week it unveiled the Timex IronMan One GPS+, developed in collaboration with Qualcomm and AT&T, which will provide users with the ability to communicate through email without being paired to a smartphone.

Don't think Dick Tracy wrist communicator just yet.

While this is something of a milestone, it's an underwhelming one. For a steep price of $400, one might expect more.

Interestingly, it comes with one year of free AT&T connectivity, but a spokesman for the wireless company said it's not ready to announce how much it will cost per month after that first year.

The watch doesn't provide voice communication capability. The first smartwatch to do that independent of a smartphone will bury the competition.

Aside from keeping users connected by email if they don't have their smartphone with them or don't have one at all, the IronMan One GPS+: * Tells friends and family where you are anytime, anywhere * Offers a Find Me Mode emergency safety solution that sends an alert with location * For joggers and swimmers, it tracks speed, distance and pace in real time and shares metrics via social media * Is waterproof up to 50 meters * Stores up to 4 GB of music to be played via Bluetooth headset * Has a high-resolution touch display that is always on and is readable in direct sunlight.

The IronMan One GPS+ is also butt ugly, but that may not be important to many of the fitness enthusiasts, hikers and loved ones of older folks with dementia who'd be most likely to consider plunking down $400.

The timing for the launch of the IronMan One GPS+ may or may not be good.

Apple's iWatch is unofficially expected to go on sale in October. If it turns out to be another superfluous yet expensive smartphone accessory that's not all that functional, that might actually help Timex.

It's likely that you'll need to be packing an iPhone in your pocket for the iWatch to receive and make calls and get and send texts and emails. It's safe to assume that it will easily be the most eye-catching smartwatch, but it may not be much more than a cool-looking, but costly, conversation piece.

If that's the case, the Timex smartwatch might just take a licking and keep on ticking.

Michael Zitz lives in Spotsylvania County. ___ (c)2014 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) Visit The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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